Posts Tagged ‘U.S. Department of Homeland Security’

Amtrak Gets $10M Homeland Security Grant

August 22, 2022

Amtrak will receive a $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

A news release from the department said the funding will be used to “protect critical surface transportation and the traveling public from acts of terrorism and to increase the resilience of transit infrastructure.”

The grant was part of $550 million in final allocations for seven federal fiscal year competitive preparedness grant programs.

The department said those grants together with the almost $1.5 billion in non-competitive grant funding announced earlier this year, total more than $2 billion in FY22 to help prepare the nation against man-made threats and natural disasters.

Of the money allotted, $93 million will be provided to owners and operators of public transit systems.

Amtrak Wants TSA to Screen Some of its Passengers Against a Terrorist List

April 9, 2022

Amtrak wants the U.S. Transportation Security Administration to screen some of its passengers against a Terrorist Screening Database, the Hearst Television National Investigative Unit recently reported.

The report said Amtrak wants to determine if any of its passengers may be terrorists or suspected terrorists.

At this point Amtrak would not prohibit any passengers from traveling in the same manner that airlines deny boarding to those on a U.S. Department of Homeland Security no fly list.

In fact, the report said, the information that TSA would provide Amtrak would not include the names of those who traveled on Amtrak who are on a terrorism watch list but would instead provide statistical data.

Hearst said it learned of the plans by reviewing a security privacy impact report it obtained that was created by Homeland Security.

The information that DHS would review about passengers would include their publicly available social media profiles. DHS also would review several months of past travel on the Northeast Corridor.

Hearst said Amtrak would not respond to questions it asked about the proposed program.

The Hearst report said the program would not likely be disclosed by Amtrak until it releases a new online privacy policy.

TSA also declined to comment for the story, Hearst said.

Some civil liberties organizations expressed concern about Amtrak’s proposed screening program, saying it could compromise too much freedom in the name of safety.

“It’s terrifying to me,” said Saira Hussain, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

She said those identified during the Amtrak screening program might face greater danger of that information being used whenever they come into contact with law enforcement such as during a traffic stop.

Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union said it could become a classic example of mission creep.

“Pretty soon we’re going to have people walking through, you know, body scanners to go to a Little League game,” Stanley said. “We don’t want to turn America into an airport.”

The DHS privacy assessment document noted the information gathered in the Amtrak screening program would be kept for two years.

TSA Issues Cybersecurity Directives to Railroads

December 4, 2021

Two directives have been issued to surface transportation providers by the Transportation Security Administration that seek to combat cybersecurity threats.

In a news release, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which oversees TSA, said the directives provide guidance for voluntary measures to strengthen cybersecurity in response to ongoing threats to transportation providers and the infrastructure that they use.

The directives require higher-risk freight and passenger railroads to designate a cybersecurity coordinator, report cybersecurity incidents to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency within 24 hours, develop and implement a cybersecurity incident response plan to reduce the risk of an operational disruption; and complete a cybersecurity vulnerability assessment to identify potential gaps or vulnerabilities in their systems.

TSA recommended that lower-risk surface transportation providers adopt the same practices.

The directives were developed in consultation with the Association of American Railroads

AAR said it plans to work with TSA and its Canadian counterparts to create similar measures for transportation providers based in Canada.

DHS Issues Grants for Transit Security

August 30, 2018

More than $88 million in transit security grants have been awarded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in an effort to protecting transit agencies from acts of terrorism and boosting the resilience of transit infrastructure.

The agency also issued a separate $10 million grant to increase the resilience of Amtrak’s system.

The DHS had announced last May the availability of $1.6 billion in grant funding to help prevent acts of terrorism.


Grants Available to Prevent Terrorist Acts

May 25, 2018

Amtrak and transit operators will be eligible for a grant program announced by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that is designed to prevent acts of terrorism.

The grants will be available in fiscal year 2018, which extends through Sept. 30 and are being allocated by category and entity.

This includes $10 million for the Intercity Passenger Rail-Amtrak Program to protect critical surface transportation infrastructure and the traveling public from acts of terrorism, and increase the resilience of the Amtrak rail system.

The Transit Security Grant Program provides $88 million to owners and operators of transit systems while the Port Security Grant Program, which provides $100 million to help protect critical port infrastructure.

Security Focus Remains on Aviation

October 4, 2016

The head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said his agency’s focus continues to be on battling terrorist threats to aviation even though some lawmakers are calling for an increase in security for passenger railroads.

homeland-securityJeh Johnson testified before the Senate Commerce Committee that although Homeland Security is considering assigning more resources to railroad stations, local police forces are backing up the TSA presence there.

He said aviation continues to be Homeland Security’s primary focus because of the high number of threat streams seen there.

“I continue to be concerned about aviation and airport security. And I believe that needs to be TSA’s principal focus,” Johnson said.

Johnson’s testimony came in the wake of an effort by a bipartisan group of U.S. senators to push the Surface Transportation and Maritime Security Act, which would mandate that the Transportation Security Administration, a sub-department of Homeland Security, develop risk-based strategies in all modes of transportation.

The bill directs TSA to conduct risk analyses on all modes and for the Government Accountability Office to study best security practices for security on Amtrak, and on passenger rail and mass transit operations in foreign countries.

Under the proposed legislation, Amtrak would be authorized to use TSA’s Secure Flight Program to screen rail passengers.

Amtrak and the freight railroads would have representation on a new surface transportation advisory committee.

Report Says TSA Has Not Implemented All Requirements to Protect Amtrak Passengers

May 26, 2016

The Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said that the Transportation Security Administration has not yet implemented all the requirements under a nearly 10-year-old law aimed at protecting Amtrak from terrorist threats.

The investigation found that as a result TSA has only “limited regulatory oversight” to strengthen passenger security at Amtrak.

Homeland Security“Specifically, TSA has not issued regulations to assign rail carriers to high-risk tiers; established a rail training program; and conducted security background checks of frontline rail employees,” the report said. “In the the absence of formal regulations, TSA relies on outreach programs, voluntary initiatives, and recommended measures to assess and improve rail security for Amtrak.”

The OIG said that a “complex federal rule-making process” has hindered implementation of the federal requirement.

“Although the rule-making process can be lengthy, TSA has not prioritized the need to implement these rail security requirements,” the report said. “This is evident from TSA’s inability to satisfy these requirements more than eight years after the legislation was passed.”

Homeland Security concurred with the inspector general’s conclusions, which call for:

• The TSA administrator to ensure the agency develops and adheres to a detailed, formal milestone plan to deliver the remaining 9/11 Act notices of proposed rulemaking to DHS.

•The DHS General Counsel to coordinate with the Office of Management and Budget to expedite the implementation of the remaining passenger rail requirements as called for in the legislation.